While many students are just rolling out of bed to get ready for school, Grain Valley High School’s Girls Swim and Dive team were hard at work at 6:00am on December 3rd, practicing for their first swim meet in St. Joseph on December 4th.
Head Coach Kara Liddle is excited to start the season and is pleased with how the team looks going into their second season.
“We have a lot of returners, a couple of freshman, and a couple of new sophomores out as well,” Liddle said.
There are seventeen swimmers and six divers out for this year’s team.
“We have a really good group of girls. They’re just really awesome people. You get this many girls together and you can worry about drama. But, there’s none of that,” Liddle said.
The closing of the Blue Springs YMCA has not impacted the team and their ability to practice. “Blue Springs has been really supportive in honoring our current contract, and for the foreseeable future until we have our own pool,” Liddle said.
After a successful inaugural season, the team is even more prepared to face opponents this season.
“We’re starting ahead of the game compared to where we were last year. Last year, 80% of our team was brand new to the sport of swimming and diving, whereas this year, most of our team is returning. I’m excited to see where we start. I think this season’s going to be really good,” Liddle said.
Sophomore Diver Hayden Meyer is returning after a successful first year on the team. Meyer placed 5th at State last year.
“My goal is to make it back to state again this year. Learning new dives is always a goal, and I also have the goal of placing higher at State than I did last year,” Meyer said.
Meyer was new to the sport last year, which makes her State visit even more impressive.
“I did gymnastics for 10 years before this, and had about 9 months of previous diving experience before my freshman year, “ Meyer said.
The challenge of early practices aren't’ an issue for Meyer. She emphasizes the mental toughness it takes to dive as the biggest challenge she faces.
“Having to get over smacking really hard on the water and having to go again is probably the hardest part. It’s hard to tell yourself you can do it again. Once you know how to get off the board, you can really do any dive as long as you are mentally prepared to do so,” Meyer said.
Senior swimmer Rachel Turpin is also coming back after a visit to State and has her eyes on a return trip.
“My biggest challenge is trying to keep all my motivation for my last season. My goal is to return to State this year,” Turpin said.
Turpin plans to head to Metropolitan Community College after graduation and then transfer to a four-year school.
Turpin competes in the 200 IM, 100 Fly, and 400 Free Relay in St. Joseph on December 5th.
As Turpin heads into her final year of swimming, she encourages younger students to enter the sport.
“Swimming is not like any other sport. If you’re looking to try something new, you’ll never experience anything like swimming. And, we have a really good environment on the team,” Turpin said.